Austin man, CRP sue APD for traffic stop shooting


by JESSICA HOLLOWAY / KVUE News and photojournalist ERIN COKER

Posted on August 21, 2013 at 5:26 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 21 at 5:41 PM

AUSTIN -- An Austin man has joined the Texas Civil Rights Project in a lawsuit against the Austin Police Department.

On May 8, 2013, James Barton says an APD officer fired a shot at him recklessly.

An officer stopped Barton for improperly traveling through the intersection of 12th Street and Airport Boulevard.

"He turned on his lights. I pulled over, reached for my wallet and opened my door. I was getting out when a bullet came flying past my head. He missed," said Barton.

The lawsuit is seeking damages for emotional and physical anguish as well as $12,000 in medical bills.

"The police are armed with all kinds of things to disable an individual -- tasers, pepper spray, batons. The first thing they grab is their gun," said Barton.

Jim Harrington, the president of the Texas Civil Rights Project, pointed to a list of six questionable officer-involved shootings since 2011.

"We're going to see more people, more citizens shot at, killed. We're going to continue to see this kind of litigation," said Harrington.

Harrington is calling upon the Austin City Council to get involved.

"There's something clearly wrong with the police department. The police chief isn't handling it," said Harrington.

KVUE has not yet received comment from the Austin Police Department. APD will not release the dash camera video of the shooting because the case is still under investigation.